22 January 2008
US journalists ignore Sunday Times scoop on FBI nuclear scandal
by Roy Greenslade
Harry Shearer, one of the voices behind The Simpsons, has used his own blogging voice to ask a pertinent question.  Why has a story broken by the Sunday Times over here about nefarious goings-on in the States failed to take off in the American media? He isn't alone in his concerns. Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers some 35 years ago, is even more outraged.
He writes: "For the second time in two weeks, the entire US press has let itself be scooped by Rupert Murdoch's London Sunday Times on a dynamite story of criminal activities by corrupt US officials promoting nuclear proliferation. But there is a worse journalistic sin than being scooped, and that is participating in a cover-up of information that demands urgent attention from the public, the US Congress and the courts."
The dynamite story, headlined FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft,  was a follow-up to its January 6 revelation, For sale: West's deadly nuclear secrets.  It looks to me as though the Sunday Times has landed a genuine world exclusive that should surely have been broken ages ago by US-based reporters.
It revolves around accusations made by an FBI whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds,  who - among other things - claims that the bureau was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
An American human rights group attempted to obtain further proof of this amazing tale by making a freedom of information request for a specific numbered document relating to the case. The FBI responded by claiming that it did not exist. But the Sunday Times countered that it had obtained another document, signed by an FBI official, showing the existence of the file.
That's why the Sunday Times's latest story, under its old Insight logo, began by accusing the FBI of a cover-up. This looks to me like a very hot story indeed that should surely have been taken up by mainstream newspapers in the United States.
Ellsberg is now appealing to readers to ask their papers why they have turned their backs on Edmonds's revelations. He writes: "For the last two weeks - one could say, for years - the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds... It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end."